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Home Blog Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics—What You Need to Know

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics—What You Need to Know

by Branka Vuleta

Preventing sexual harassment is a top priority, and more and more companies are looking to provide mandatory training to each employee. Sexual harassment in the workplace statistics indicate that such training provides adequate and practical information so that every individual is fully aware of such behavior and its consequences.

The definition of sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior in the form of sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or inappropriate sexual remarks.

There are two types of sexual harassment—quid pro quo and a hostile working environment. The former is defined as an exchange of sexual services, while the latter is any harassment in the workplace that can create an intimidating environment for the victim.

Let’s delve into the numbers and see how widespread these incidents are.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Seven in ten people believe that companies are not taking sexual harassment seriously
  • 12% of all sexual harassment cases occur on a daily or weekly basis
  • Women have it worse, with about 60% to experience abuse or harassment
  • Shockingly, six in ten women do not file a harassment complaint
  • 56% of men believe abusers are not punished when an incident occurs
  • Women working in restaurants experience sexual harassment 90% of the time
  • Victims of abuse are 6.5 times more likely to change professions
  • The average cost due to productivity loss amounts to $22,500 per person

Workplace Harassment Statistics 2019

sexual harassment in the workplace statistics - woman

What do we really know about sexual harassment in America? Different studies can provide more insight into this issue, but we still do not know a lot. Our cultural norms, fear, and shame allow for this problem to go unreported.

1. 25% to 85% of all American women experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in 2019.

(Source: CWW)

Harassment is pervasive, to say the least. And while both men and women are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, women have it worse.

The 2019 workplace harassment statistics indicate that anywhere between 25% and 85% of all women experienced some form of sexual harassment while at work.

This came at a time when the media continued to publish scandalous headlines about sexual harassment in business and politics.

2. 13% of women in the UK have experienced various forms of verbal or visual harassment at work.

(Source: Statista)

Delving deeper into these statistics on sexual harassment, we can see a difference in the number of assaulted women in the United Kingdom.

Out of all female victims of assault, 13% experienced whistling, suggestive looks, or rude comments and gestures, and in 10% of all cases, women received embarrassing comments about their bodies or clothes of choice.

3. 74% of all adults believe their companies take sexual harassment seriously.

(Source: CNBC)

The majority of Americans believe their companies’ management takes sexual misconduct very seriously, which is truly encouraging. Only 5% disagree, stating their companies are lenient toward firing executives and celebrities accused of sexual misconduct.

4. 67% of women and 32% of men say that sexual assault in the workplace is a frequent occurrence in a legal profession.

(Source: UNODC)

Even though men and women who are over 50 years old see these issues as less common, their younger co-workers believe they are fairly prevalent. Younger women are more likely to experience sexual harassment of any kind, with about 41% of men admitting they have seen inappropriate behavior toward younger women.

5. 77% of all men say they will most likely speak out if they see any mistreatment of women.

(Source: HBR)

After Alyssa Milano sparked a movement on social media using the hashtag #MeToo, the number of women who spoke out increased tenfold. With the media issuing these shocking sexual harassment in the workplace statistics, men also feel more empowered than ever to speak out if they see any inappropriate behavior toward women.

6. Out of all harassed individuals, 63% of women did not file a complaint, while 79% of men kept the issue to themselves.

(Source: BBC)

These are worrying numbers as a lot of individuals decide not to speak out due to the fear of retaliation. Every person responds to harassment differently, but ever since the #MeToo movement gained traction, a lot of people have revealed their experiences and showed the magnitude of this problem.

7. 14% of all harassment charges are filed by individuals providing accommodation and food services.

(Source: Tandfonline)

Sexual harassment facts of 2019 state that workers in this sector experience twice as much harassment than any other. Alarming, to say the least, especially for women who rely on tips. The line between kindness and being flirtatious is rather thin, as these women are increasingly exposed to sexual harassment from managers, co-workers, and customers.

8. 12% of all sexual harassment reports occurred daily or weekly.

(Source: Unison)

Stats on sexual harassment show that more than one in ten cases are occurring on a daily or weekly basis. Even more troubling is the fact that while most incidents are acknowledged, up to 31% of people say that no action was taken even though incidents occurred frequently.

Intimidation is a key factor here as most individuals state this is the number one reason why some cases are not taken into account or acted upon.

Workplace Harassment Statistics 2020

sexual harassment in the workplace statistics - man

Harassment does not necessarily need to be physical. Verbal harassment or sexual remarks can also be offensive, especially for women. It is unlawful to harass a person in any situation, especially if that person is a co-worker or another employee.

9. Women have a 60% chance of experiencing harassment.

(Source: Statistics Views)

This is especially worrying, as about three in five women are subjected to sexual harassment, as the latest sexual harassment stats indicate. To make matters worse, this number is valid only for women who have already reported accounts of sexual harassment.

10. Roughly 58% of harassed women did not file a complaint.

(Source: HBR)

The number one reason is the fear of retaliation. Another reason is the uncertainty regarding the definition of harassment. To add to that, many women state people do not believe them when they report such incidents.

Nearly a quarter of surveyed individuals say yes to being harassed, according to these statistics of sexual harassment. But when harassment was explained using specific acts, offensive remarks, or crude jokes, the respondents’ reactions to experiencing harassment doubled.

11. 50% of women and 64% of men who were victims of sexual harassment agreed that it hurt their career.

(Source: Generation Ratify)

While a lot of people come forward and speak out on the harassment issues in the workplace, there are also a lot of those who choose to stay silent. Suppressed feelings and the fear of speaking out publicly have forced these individuals to quit their current positions and change jobs.

12. Only 25% of women who were victims of sexual harassment at work statistics say they could easily report the incident to their employers.

(Source: Generation Ratify)

While this is a somewhat encouraging fact, it still is a small number of sexually harassed women who are confident enough to report abuse. Nonetheless, it is a positive step forward for all companies that encourage their employees to report any kind of harassment.

13. 77% of women were verbally harassed, while 51% of women were touched without permission.

(Source: NPR)

Such behavior is pervasive as it shows that more than half of the women in the workplace are experiencing these issues. These female harassment in the workplace statistics are enough for every company to address them adequately and establish a positive environment without any fear of misconduct.

14. 31% of all victims felt depressed and anxious after experiencing sexual harassment or assault.

(Source: NPR)

These are staggering numbers that provide insight into what victims are dealing with. The majority of the victims make life-changing decisions, such as changing their jobs, ending relationships, or even marriages.

There are a lot of reports and harassment facts that sexually abused victims opt to change schools, quit their jobs, move out from their house or apartment, or simply stop interacting with their community members, even after seeking help.

15. At the turn of 2020, the EEOC has filed a total of 7,514 lawsuits, a slight decrease compared to the year before.

(Source: EEOC)

Thanks to the previously mentioned #MeToo movement, many victims were encouraged to speak out and accuse the harassers. Since then, many men and women have come forward with the intent to punish the harassers and free the workplace from any kind of harassment.

Statistics about sexual harassment show a decrease of only 2% in lawsuits being filed, which may seem an insignificant percentage at first, but it is a positive step going forward into 2020.

16. Only 1% of sexually harassed victims confronted their harassers.

(Source: NPR)

This stat shows exactly how challenging it is to confront the person who made the victim suffer. After all, it’s not easy to face the abuser, especially if sexual harassment was the case. As earlier sexual harassment facts and statistics show, it is much easier for the victims to change their lives than to confront the harassers.

17. 81% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime.

(Source: Stop Street Harassment)

This report also reveals that 43% of men had experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. That is a fairly large percentage considering other data collected on this topic. That could be due to the anonymity factor, as not a lot of men and women are strong or confident enough to speak out publicly, as numerous sexual harassment reporting statistics show.

18. Shockingly, 71% of women were touched or groped in an unwelcome manner on the street or in public.

(Source: Stop Street Harassment)

These figures are alarming, to say the least, as many women are experiencing unwelcome behavior or abuse while in public places. Most common sexual harassment cases occur when women stroll through parks, streets, stores, malls, restaurants, and movie theaters.

According to these street harassment statistics, seven out of ten women were inappropriately touched when in public. While authorities are rigorous on this matter, only 27% of the abused women survived a sexual assault.

19. 28% of men have experienced touching or groping in an unwelcome way on the street or in public.

(Source: Stop Street Harassment)

Men also experience inappropriate touching when in public, although the numbers are smaller compared to women. Out of those men, 7% survived sexual assault.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics

sexual harassment in the workplace statistics - girl

Over the last few years, sexual harassment awareness has brought this problem to light. With the latest publicly disclosed sexual harassment issues in the workplace, it is essential to understand the facts in order to act properly.

20. 99% of employees successfully recognize a sexual harassment situation.

(Source: True Office Learning)

This is a positive step toward eliminating potentially dangerous scenarios. Recent allegations have taught us that people are not afraid to address this issue. It is reported that almost all individuals show support and want to fight against sexual misconduct.

21. According to the latest workplace sexual harassment statistics, 34% of employees do not truly grasp and identify behavior that leads to a hostile working environment.

(Source: True Office Learning)

While almost every employee is aware of the consequences of sexual misconduct, not everyone truly grasps the concept of harassment. Surprisingly, a third of the employees do not understand the elements of sexual harassment, which can potentially create a hostile working environment.

22. The number of sexual harassment charges increases by up to 15% each year.

(Source: Dando Diary)

Sexual assault in the workplace statistics show that the increasing number of charges every year further supports the fact that employees are aware of these issues and are more than willing to press charges. While the number of these charges has increased over the years, a lot of sexual assaults still go unreported.

23. 56% of men believe that reported workplace sexual harassment goes unpunished.

(Source: INC)

Men, and people in general, believe that the majority of the reported incidents are not prosecuted, as numerous male sexual harassment statistics indicate. People accused of the assault claimed they were just joking and had no intention to hurt or sexually assault anyone.

24. 20% of companies have made an effort to create specific strategies to address sexual harassment issues.

(Source: HRAcuity)

Since the start of the #MeToo movement, companies have begun addressing this issue more. If the latest reports are true, two out of ten companies are making an effort to eliminate all current and potential inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

25. 90% of female restaurant workers experience sexual harassment.

(Source: Legal Voice)

Out of all reported cases and stats on sexual harassment in the workplace, female restaurant workers are predominantly exposed to such mistreatment. Workers in this industry often live through these experiences.

Minorities are even more exposed as they face other problems as well, such as immigration status, lack of other job options, cultural differences, language barriers, and, very often, not knowing their rights.

26. 68% of LGBT workers have experienced sexual harassment at work.

(Source: TUC)

The 2019 sexual harassment in the workplace statistics revealed that seven out of ten LGBT workers were the victims of sexual harassment at work. Two-thirds of these incidents go unreported because LGBT workers fear of getting fired.

27. One in seven women and approximately one in 17 men have sought different job opportunities due to harassment in the workplace.

(Source: NSVRC)

Workplace harassment is very common, but it is rarely reported. Close to 85% of the victims do not file a complaint or press charges. What is more worrying is that most victims do not even talk about it with their co-workers or superiors. Instead, they opt to quit their jobs or work for a different company.

How Common Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

sexual harassment in the workplace statistics - me too

The #MeToo movement raised awareness against sexual harassment in the workplace, and it took a huge toll on people’s personal lives. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread, and women are suffering the most. Studies estimate that 25% to 85% of them experience some sort of harassment at work.

Sexual assault and other forms of harassment have a serious impact on women, and men for that matter, as well as their employers.

There are numerous solutions to harassment in the workplace as statistics show, such as anti-harassment policy, training implementation, discouraging misconduct, limiting the number of alcoholic beverages at office parties, etc.

Workplace harassment can affect an individual in many ways and cost companies a lot of money at the same time.

28. The EEOC gained $46.3 million in monetary benefits for sexual harassment charges.

(Source: IWPR)

Amounts of financial payouts by companies are usually kept confidential, but EEOC is responsible for publishing financial settlements on behalf of all victims. These are not definite numbers since the EEOC is responsible only for a small number of charges it receives.

29. Victims of harassment are 6.5 times more likely to change jobs.

(Source: IWPR)

Statistics on sexual harassment in the workplace provide insight into the victim’s state of mind as those individuals are more likely to change their jobs after experiencing abuse. This could be due to the fact that a lot of incidents go unpunished, or that victims fear retaliation when they choose to report those incidents.

30. $22,500 per person is the average cost through lost productivity.

(Source: IWPR)

Judging by these statistics of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s safe to say that the negative effects of harassment are also detrimental to the company since all employees are heavily affected by such scenarios.

That comes as no surprise because sexual harassment can reduce the motivation and productivity of an employee. This, in turn, can influence the overall job satisfaction and productivity.

31. 60% of all sexual discrimination complaints based on maternity are gender-related.

(Source: Forbes)

Sexual discrimination statistics portray a growing concern when it comes to maternity leave. Namely, two-thirds of all discrimination complaints based on maternity are, in fact, made on the basis of gender. Being fired for getting pregnant or after returning from maternity leave are two clear indicators of discrimination.

32. Top locations where men report sexual harassment are in a public space, at school, work, home, or by phone.

(Source: Refinery)

Men are mostly harassed in public, with 19% of respondents stating this. Another 14% of men are harassed at school, while 13% are harassed at work or by phone.

Statistics about sexual harassment in the workplace show a vast difference between harassment of men and women, with women being more prone to abuse.

33. Sexual harassment charges saw an increase of 12% compared to previous years.

(Source: Fisher Phillips)

There are numerous articles on workplace violence addressing this issue, and this stat further points at how many complaints are filed. According to workplace statistics, there was a massive 12% increase compared to previous years.

Considering the increased number of charges, although truly alarming, it is an encouraging sign that more and more victims are coming forward, bringing the perpetrators to light.

Sexual Harassment Statistics - The Bottom Line

Harassment is unwelcome behavior that is directed toward an individual based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and similar. A stable working environment must be provided by every company, together with sexual harassment training.

Not only that, but companies need to take these matters seriously, as sexual abuse can have a series of consequences that can last a lifetime. It is imperative for companies to address this issue as these stats provide significant insight into what men and women are dealing with on a daily basis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is workplace violence and harassment?

Workplace violence is defined as physical violence or threat with the aim to hurt a co-worker or employee in the workplace that should otherwise be considered a safe and healthy environment.

The exercise of physical force can cause an injury that hampers the work and productivity of the victim. This will not only lead to decreased productivity of an employee, but the company will suffer consequences as well.

The workplace sexual harassment definition outlines these grave repercussions. Companies need to deal with such scenarios in a swift manner.

Furthermore, an unstable working environment may also lead to harassment in the form of verbal abuse, sexual remarks, general misconduct, and unwelcome behavior, such as inappropriate touching or other sexual advances.

The workplace should be free from these incidents and provide a stable, safe, and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of its employees, as well as the company.

How many cases of workplace harassment are filed each year?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not an industry-related problem but is rather widespread. On average, the EEOC receives 12,574 sexual harassment charges every year, with the record number of 13,055 charges filed in 2018.

These numbers do not include any charges that have been filed with local or state fair employment agencies.

As we outlined above, most of these cases go unresolved, which is a truly worrying fact considering the staggering number of charges filed each year.

What percentage of male students claim to have been sexually harassed?

Men are not immune to sexual harassment and are often victims of such assaults. Reports state that male students aged 18 to 24 are five times more likely to be the victims of sexual assault compared to the same group of men who are not students.

Millions of men are also victims of sexual assaults or other forms of harassment, and, again, most of these incidents go unreported out of fear of rejection, shame, and even retaliation.

How common is catcalling?

When young women walk alone in public, they often feel anxious. Situations where women are whistled at or catcalled are not uncommon, regardless of the location. About every nine in ten women experience street harassment, either by wolf-whistling or catcalling.

Women experience catcalling around 3.69 times in seven days. That is more than once every two days, according to these catcalling statistics. It is a serious issue that portrays catcalling as very common. Such behavior makes women feel very uncomfortable and unsafe.

Furthermore, it fuels additional fear in women’s minds. Especially since about a quarter of harassment occurs while women are using mass transportation, including subways, metros, trains, and buses.

Catcalling is also common with ride-sharing services or taxi drivers when women pass by or are signaling for their services.

How many females in America are sexually assaulted annually?

Millions of women in America have experienced sexual assaults, with younger women being exposed to even higher risk. The average number of sexual assaults per year is 321,500, with 90% of these victims being female.

Young female non-students between 18 and 24 are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than female students who belong to the same age group.

What is more worrying is the fact that young women aged 16 to 19 are four times more likely to become victims of sexual assault.

Which type of workplace sexual harassment is most frequent?

The most common type of harassment that occurs within a workplace is the so-called “quid-pro-quo,” which translates into “this for that” type of a deal.

Numerous cases point to the fact that many employees use bargaining as part of their “tactic” to get what they need from their co-workers.

Even though such negotiations are common in the workplace, sexual favors should never see use, to begin with.

Not only does it lead to an unprofessional setting, but it also reduces productivity, job satisfaction, and hinders employees’ progress, as numerous sexual harassment in the workplace statistics show.

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